Sunday, January 17, 2010

Winter Watching

Driving home from work the morning of New Year's Eve, I came around a turn by the river when I spotted a bald eagle.

I gazed at it amazed.

I had only seen 1 or 2 wild bald eagles previous to this. I couldn't wait to get home and tell Bug about it (since birdwatching is one of Bug's favorite hobbies.)

It was then that I noticed the bald eagle was not alone. There were literally dozens of bald eagles in the trees along the river, soaring, swooping down to catch fish out of the river.

(Look in the tree tops!)

I hurried home, threw coats on my pajama-wearing boys and took them down to the river. We watched (from the car, because it was -5 degrees outside) for nearly an hour while Bug counted at least 35 eagles and Monkey squealed each time one caught a fish. We felt it was the perfect way to spend celebrating a new year.

Eagles migrate through this part of Iowa during the winter.

Over two weeks later, and the eagles are still here.

I drive past them every morning, just amazed by their size and striking plumage. Some days, they gather in groups and circle high above the river.

Today, we decided to venture out to do more eagle viewing. It was 32 degrees today, so the weather was more conducive to more active watching.

We drove down to the river, both boys prepared with binoculars.

We were not disappointed.

There were bald eagles, resting in the high branches of the bare trees lining the river.

We also saw juvenile bald eagles, which don't get the iconic white head and tail until 3-5 years of age.

Hubster's convinced them come to Iowa because the single digit temperatures here must feel quite tropical compared to where ever they came from.

I know the eagles will be moving on soon.

But we'll be watching for them again next winter. (Hopefully, with a better camera!) At least there is something amid all the gloom and cold to look forward to.


  1. Awesome. I love Bird Watching, and that many eagles? I'm jealous I've only seen them in a zoo.

  2. That is so awesome! I loved seeing the eagles in Montana. I never saw that many at one time though!

  3. That's awesome!!! I'd love to see them. What a cool experience for your boys!

  4. As much as I loathe the cold weather, Iowa is really beautiful this time of year!!

  5. How amazing. I have never seen a bald eagle in person, only in pictures. I've never even seen one in a zoo.

  6. Eagles always look so regal, even if they're half asleep. Nice pics!

    Just outside of Haines, AK, there's a spot where the highest concentration of bald eagles in North America hang out each year. It's pretty amazing to see hundreds(?) thousands(?) of eagles flying and swooping down to snatch fish out of the river. I lived there for several years as a kid and took it for granted; I don't think my parents even took any pictures. Next summer I'll have to make plans (it's a good 10-hour drive away from where I live now) to go practice my wildlife photography.

  7. Great pics! That's one thing about being a sucky photographer -- I see things all the time that a talented photographer such as you would really capture well.

  8. That is very cool. My Benjamin has long been a bird buff, too. He would have really enjoyed that.